Apple iOS 5 review

There's a lot to like about the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, but some rough edges remain as we discover in our review.

IT Pro Verdict

Even if iOS 5 wasn't filled to the rafters with new and improved features, it's hard to argue against installing it since it's free of charge. For existing iOS owners it's not a question of whether to upgrade, but when to upgrade. This will depend on whether the apps you depend on are compatible with iOS 5 and, if not, when they will be updated and have made their way through Apple's approval process. However, it's a different story for dedicated users of rival mobile operating systems. Although we think iOS 5 is on balance the best mobile OS currently available, Apple is not budging on its design decisions such as no access to the file system. If you've been dissatisfied with iOS before, there's nothing here to change your mind.

ITPRO Recommended award

PC-free setup and iCloud

One of the biggest complaints about iOS devices to date is that they had to be tethered to a computer for initial configuration. This can be tedious, not only for consumers, but for IT departments deploying large numbers of iOS devices. Thankfully, this is longer necessary thanks to a collection of features that Apple collectively calls PC-free setup.

An on-device setup assistant and iCloud means you no longer need a computer to configure your iOS device.

If you're upgrading an existing iOS 4 device, then this means little in practice at first since you have to download and install the iOS 5 update through iTunes on a PC or Mac. For devices that come with iOS 5 pre-installed, a new setup wizard appears the first time you turn it on guiding you through all the various configuration options, including restoring your settings from iCloud if you're upgrading from an older device upgraded to iOS 5 (more on this below).

Once that's done you may never need to connect your iOS device to your computer ever again. Future operating system upgrades can be installed without the aid of a PC, your settings and files can be backed up to iCloud rather than your computer and numerous tasks that used to require a computer, such as creating calendars or configuring Apple's AirPort range of wireless routers, can now be done in iOS. Apps and media purchased from iTunes can be set to download automatically to all iOS devices logged in with the same iTunes account.